The Math Behind Slot Machines

p>lot machines are attractive to the casual gamer because you don’t need a specific set of skills, knowledge, or experience to be able to sit down and pull the lever or push a button.

Some people might look at slot machines as a crap shoot, but the reality is a slot machine operates just like any other casino game. A random result is obtained with every bet wagered, and it doesn’t matter if the bet comes from a ball falling into a slot on the wheel, the dealing of cards, the throwing of dice, or the spinning of reels. While the result is random, the house achieves an edge in the games it offers through the math, and that is how the casinos make their money.

When a slot machine player is searching for a machine, they are attracted to the machines they "feel" will hit. They might look for patterns in the time of day, how much money has been fed into the machine, and even the location of a machine. Patterns help justify the choice of the machine they have selected. Whether they win or lose, they attribute it to their selection process, but the reality is it is all random.

The math behind slot machines dictates that it be random. It doesn’t matter when the last jackpot hit or how much money was wagered; you have the same chance of hitting a jackpot on a "cold" machine as a "hot" one. And because it’s random, it’s impossible to predict when or where a payout will happen.

What you need to know is the game starts and is over when you place your bet. A random number generator determines the outcome of each of the reels the second the reels start turning.

Random outcomes are the whole premise of casino games, not just slot machines. In fact, for regulated casinos, these random outcomes are rigorously protected by the official government bodies who provide the license. Every regulated casino reports to a gaming authority like the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) or the Malta Gambling Authority (MGA) that requires random results and dictates that the payouts account for a certain percentage of the money wagered.

The Math Behind the Slots

It’s important to understand odds to understand the math behind slots. Let’s take the simple example of heads and tails. The odds of getting heads or tails with the flip of a coin is 50/50; it’s an even-sum game. Meaning if you wagered money over the long term you would expect to be even.

For a casino to make money on this game, they would use the math to create terms that benefit them.  If you lose the bet, you lose the full bet, but if you win, your payout will be 90 percent of the full bet. In this scenario, over the long term you will end up losing 10 percent of the amount wagered. The casino took a break-even game and created an edge to give the house an advantage.

Simply put, that is how the math behind slot machines works. The payouts are calculated to be less than the odds of hitting a payout. In the long run, you can’t beat an even-sum game or a slot machine when they are designed to pay you a percentage on the dollar.

Strategies for Managing Bankroll with Slot Machines

Now that you know why casinos and slot machines are the winners, let’s look at some ways to manage your bankroll responsibly while we’re playing.

Play Small

It’s true that lower-stakes machines usually have worse odds than higher-stakes ones. However, when you do the math using an average bet amount per hour and the payout percentages, you’ll find it’s easier to control your spending by playing the machines that have smaller jackpots. Keep this in mind when you choose one of the casinos listed on our casino A-Z directory

Stay Away from Huge Progressive Jackpots

The appeal of winning a big jackpot is undeniable, but you should know a portion of each bet goes towards making the progressive jackpot higher. Your payout percentages on all of the other ways to win are less because you are technically wagering less money. If you can’t stay away from the enticement of the huge jackpots that some slot machines offer, then at least choose a lower-stakes machine.

Choose a Real-Reel over a Video-Reel Machine

Video-reel slots are fun to watch because of the bells and whistles. They add to the entertainment value of the machine. The problem with all the lights and sounds is it takes longer to display the chosen symbols than a traditional slot machine does. The casino isn’t earning money when the machine is entertaining you. Although it is true to say that slot machines all over the world draw on the most popular references from celebrity culture and that there are countless slots games inspired by popular TV shows and movies, one should always remember that video-reel slots often pay out at a smaller percentage compared to a physical slot machine to compensate for the extra time needed to display the results.

Capitalize on Loyalty Reward Programs

Casinos want to keep slot machine players playing, and they do that by offering coupons, discounts, cash back, and other prizes. While the program has no relevance on whether you win or not, offsetting your expenses with their offers can help you save money. We have published a page about all the best free cash bonuses available in the industry to help you choose the best casino room to play at. Have a look at it and don’t forget we update it every week.

Play Other Machine Games

You are more likely to find better odds and better payout percentages on other machine games like video poker, video roulette, and video blackjack. Even better odds can be found if you graduate from slot machines to table games. If you are more comfortable with a machine, then try your hand at video poker.

Know the Casinos

Casinos are required to payout at an agreed upon payout percentage. Some casinos advertise their percentages while others don’t, and it makes sense to choose casinos and machines that advertise a high payout percentage.

Realize that high-traffic casinos tend to have lower payout percentages while casinos with lower traffic are trying to lure new players with better percentages. Avoid advertising claims that do not speak to specific numbers because they usually do not have the data to support the claims.

If you are one of the many players that play slot machines for entertainment, then it’s your job to get the most value for your money. Do your homework, do the math, and read as many independent reviews as you can before you choose to play at the casino that offers the best experience, customer loyalty program, and where you feel most comfortable, safe and welcome.